Lack of rain, safety cars in Montreal contributed to Vettel benefit

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Two things didn’t happen on Sunday in Montreal that would have otherwise spiced up the first “Sebastian Vettel benefit” since Bahrain: rain, and safety cars.

The mixed conditions that had hit Circuit Gilles Villeneuve all weekend created something of a jumbled grid, notably with Valtteri Bottas taking his Williams FW35-Renault to heights it could never have hit in dry conditions in third.

Still, with Vettel on pole, all he had to do on Sunday was his usual task of pulling out a big enough gap in the first few laps to avoid having the car behind him close enough to use DRS. A gap of more than two seconds after lap one was pretty much all he needed to set sail on what has traditionally been a “bogey track” for him and the Red Bull Racing team.

Bottas’ presence, too, was always going to throw a monkey wrench into the plans of the faster cars behind him. Sixth-starting Fernando Alonso was desperate to get past in the opening laps and even though the Spaniard did, he was already too far back of Vettel to have a proper chance of catching the Red Bull.

That Alonso made it to second, but still some 14.4 seconds back by the checkered flag, was a testament to both of their races. Alonso did everything he could but was never in with a chance against the Red Bull.

The other thing to note was the obvious lack of safety cars. A frequent staple at Montreal, the safety car never made an appearance on Sunday, and thus never had the chance to wipe out Vettel’s insurmountable lead.

Adrian Sutil got off lucky when he spun at Turn 3 and 4, not getting collected or hitting the wall on his own. The Giedo van der Garde/Mark Webber dust-up at the hairpin was a clumsy moment but not worthy of bringing out the safety car.

Vettel’s domination and the cleanliness of the Formula One field ensured there weren’t the necessary ingredients to spice up what’s usually one of the more intriguing Grands Prix of the year. 

Audi bids farewell to Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich upon retirement

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Audi bid farewell to its iconic head of motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, at its end-of-season ‘Race Night’ event in Germany on Friday upon his retirement.

Ullrich took over the reins as Audi’s head of motorsport in 1993 and stayed in the role for 23 years, overseeing its arrival in the prototype class of sports car racing and domination of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Ullrich stepped down from the position at the end of 2016, handing the reins over to ex-Audi DTM chief Dieter Gass, and attended his final racing event with the German marque at its first works Formula E outing in Hong Kong earlier this month.

Ullrich was honored at the Race Night event on Friday and thanked for his efforts in developing Audi into a force within global motorsport.

“In 566 factory-backed commitments during this period he celebrated 209 victories, 13 of them in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, eleven in the 12-hour race at Sebring and nine in the ‘Petit Le Mans’ at Road Atlanta,” a piece on Ullrich’s tenure for Audi’s website reads.

“31 driver titles in super touring car racing, in the DTM and in the sports prototype category are credited to him. 57 campaigners were Audi factory drivers during Wolfgang Ullrich’s era and he was responsible for 18 new developments of racing cars – an impressive tally.”